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UN assembly: African leaders raise Global South's issues, call for reforms

Kenya's President William Samoei Ruto addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in in New York City on September 21, 2022.   -  
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TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP or licensors


The UN's General Assembly was convening Wednesday (September 21), under the theme "A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges". African leaders adressed diffent issues.

Kenya's president, William Samoei Ruto and Nigeria's Buhari were concerned with the climate crisis.

When Buhari highlighted the fact that largest polluters suffer the least of climate change, Ruto presented the situation his country is faced with.

"The northern arid and semi-arid rangelands of our country have been gravely impacted by drought, whose severity has not been seen or experienced in 40 years, he said.

"Three point one million residents of these ASALS (Arid and Semi-Arid Lands) are now severely food insecure on account of scarce rainfall over three consecutive seasons, leading to poor crop and pasture."

It was the first time that Ruto also explored solutions to financially support nations faced with a conjunction of crises: "I join other leaders in calling upon the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral lenders to extend pandemic related debt relief to the worst hit countries", he said.

Mentionning particularly countries "affected by the devastating combination of conflict, climate change and COVID-19."

On the second day of the General Debate in New York, President Hichilema focused on those bearing the brunt of the impact of the war in Ukraine.

"Zambia joins other governments in expressing particular concern about the ongoing war in Ukraine", the 60-year-old insisted. 

"As we stand with all those affected, both inside Ukraine and in the neighboring countries, we also take this opportunity to stress the far-reaching negative consequences of this war, particularly on the prices of food across the world, fuel, fertilizer and other key commodities", Hichilema concluded.

Growing call for reform of international agencies

Delivering his final speech as head of state ahead of stepping down, Nigerian leader Buhari said challenges raised by the war in Ukraine and other recent crisis justify calls by for the reform of the United Nations system to make the Security Council and agencies more representative and capable of meeting current demands.

Kenya's president doubled down on that: "It is time for multilateralism to reflect the voice of the farmers, represent the hopes of villagers, champion the aspirations of pastoralists, defend the rights of fisherfolk, express the dreams of traders, respect the wishes of workers and indeed, protect the welfare of all peoples of the Global South."

The 77th UN general assembly will end on 26 September.

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